Well, first of all, going to AA meetings and being involved in the AA community are almost separate things. You can be one of those people who goes to one meeting a week and goes home afterwards, or one of those people who goes to several and makes the coffee and goes out for dinner with the group afterwards. They really urge you, when you first start going, to become one of those involved people. Because it does help you stay sober.
When AA is good, it’s really good. It’s like having a big group of friends who really “get” you, who you can turn to for anything. It’s laughing all the time, feeling safe and healthy, and feeling really in touch with some sort of spirituality (not religion). There was a time where I felt really happy being in AA. I never had a real belief in God before, and they sortof coaxed it into me…again, it wasn’t religious, just a feeling that something out there might be looking out for me and protecting and helping me. That is a very powerful feeling, and probably what has kept me sober for three years now.
After a while, AA wasn’t good for me anymore. I lost my ability to make choices for myself, possibly as a result of the “don’t think” sort of attitude that a lot of AAers have. The mentality in some AA communities is very much based on doing what the rest of the group thinks is good for you and less on the actual AA literature. Not all groups are like this, though.
Even worse, I suddenly realized one day that I was spending a lot of time with a lot of people who weren’t really sober! They tell you to “stick with the winners”, but it’s really hard to tell who’s going to spontaneously start drinking or doing heroin again. And it’s really hard to have made all these really close friends only to watch them disappear into the abyss of addiction and possibly death. I ended up relapsing with a few of them too, until I realized that I needed to take a step back and take control of my own life again.
Some people stay in AA for their entire lives and swear by it. Some of us, like me, spent enough time in AA to get our heads together enough to stay sober. The principles that they teach you in AA are useful, even if you stop going to meetings. But if you need to stop drinking NOW, you will find the tools you need to not drink, at least for today, at an AA meeting.